In My Own Dream - The Life and Times of Paul Butterfield

Phase One of a documentary about the late, legendary blues harpist Paul Butterfield, seen through the eyes of his son, Gabriel.
Thom Pollard
Jackson, New Hampshire
United States
3 Team Members


This project can be traced back to a day in 1970 or so, when as a nine year old kid my big brother Jeff called me into his room to play a tune on his record player. I'll never forget that sound: the powerful and soulful blues harp of Paul Butterfield playing the first notes of Everything's Gonna Be Alright off the Paul Butterfield Blues Band Live album. I remember staring at the label spinning around and around, frozen in amazement at this incredible sound. Little did I know that it is a sound that transformed the world of the blues and Rock & Roll. It sure transformed me!
When Jeff spun that disc on that day it not only turned me on to Paul Butterfield, but it was one of the first times I can remember my brother and I (seven years my senior) really connecting on a deep level, beyond the kid brother idolizing his big brother.
Flash forward to May 1987, my brother Jeff and I are in the kitchen of my parents house when we hear the news of Paul Butterfield passing away. I said to Jeff, "imagine how great it would be to produce a documentary on the life of Paul Butterfield." He urged me to go after it. But, literally speaking, there were other mountains for me to climb before going after something like that.
In April of 2006 I was ready to climb that mountain. I'd spent the intervening years filming documentaries for PBS and National Geographic on Mount Everest and in Alaska, had survived avalanches and epic Himalayan storms, had built and sailed an ancient-styled reed ship from Chile to Easter Island. I had traveled far and wide, immersing myself in strange cultures and dangerous places, all the while learning to tell a story with the materials that I'd filmed.
Then, tragically, my brother Jeff, who had become a soul mate and best friend to me, took his own life on Valentine's Day of that year. For weeks, the sounds of Everything's Gonna Be Alright kept popping into my head. Then, I remembered that day back in 1987 when I'd spoken to Jeff about producing the documentary about Paul Butterfield. Was this Jeff telling me to get cracking?
A couple of days later I sent an email to Paul's son, Gabriel, telling him the story I've just shared with you. Gabriel called me that very night. We spoke on the telephone for three hours talking about the film, his father, my brother, and losing people that we love. Gabriel and I met in person a month later in Memphis when he accepted his dad into the Blues Hall of Fame. From the moment we met there was no question we were going to make this film together. And, there you have the genesis of In My Own Dream - The Life and Times of Paul Butterfield.


In My Own Dream - The Life and Times of Paul Butterfield

"I am smarter than the people that are trying to reform me." -Paul Butterfield, seen under Paul's photo in his senior high school year book

A white kid growing up in Chicago in the early 60's, Paul Butterfield audaciously stepped outside of the comfort of his middle class roots and walked right into a world heretofore only known by poor black musicians. These blues musicians were tough men and women, playing in the smokey basement bars along the streets of south side Chicago. They deserved to play the Blues because they lived the Blues. Muddy Waters. Howling Wolf. Little Walter Horton. No white kid in his right mind would walk into that world. But along came Butterfield. He blew life into a fading musical genre by introducing it to white audiences craving the real thing.

Paul Butterfield was the first of his kind. His music electrified and forever changed the landscape of The Blues and Rock & Roll. With his soulful voice and powerful sounds made with his Hohner harmonica (harp), Butterfield erupted upon the scene like a shooting star. 

Scratch that: he blasted onto the scene like a soulful alley cat that bellowed to the moon. Everyone stopped to listen.  Then, all too soon, Paul Butterfield was gone at 44.

The real story of Paul Butterfield - which is the REAL story of Chicago Blues - has never been told. The only one who can tell that story is his eldest son, Gabriel Butterfield. Together with producer Thom Pollard, the two are producing the ultimate authorized film on the life and music of the late, great bluesman himself.

The thread of the documentary will follow Gabriel on his quest of discovery to find out more about the complex and sometimes mysterious man that was his father. Gabriel will travel to and meet those who knew Paul best, those who created and played music with him, those who saw him at his finest, as well as his worst.

At the age of fourteen Paul hung out at the feet of the great bluesmen, pestering them until they'd let him get on stage to play. White kids knew better than to walk into the street-tough bars like Big John's or the Blue Flame Lounge. But these places felt like home to Butterfield. And, on that fateful evening when Muddy Waters finally let Butterfield get beside him to play, the entire world of The Blues changed forever.

Butterfield created the first integrated blues band when he convinced Howlin' Wolf bass player Jerome Arnold and drummer and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Sam Lay to join his band. Butterfield treated his band mates as equals, paying them all an equal split from the evening's take. Unheard of at the time. When Sam Lay realized he would go from making $7.25 a night for a gig with Wolf to more than twice that "the case was closed". Sam joined Butterfield's band on the spot.

Only a few years later in 1965 Butterfield literally electrified the world by becoming the first band ever to play an electric set at the Newport Folk Festival. Bob Dylan was so impressed by the performance that he borrowed Paul's band and himself went electric in the timeless and iconic set that turned the folk world on its end forever.

Time lapse forward twenty years. Muddy Waters. BB King. Little Walter. All have become household names in the world of music and The Blues. BB King said it himself that if it weren't for Butterfield he "wouldn't be here today."

Gabriel Butterfield and Thom Pollard have initiated this Indiegogo campaign to raise the necessary funds to complete PHASE ONE of the biographical documentary on the life and music of Paul Butterfield. Phase One will document the early years of Butterfield's life: his early years and emergence in Chicago, then onward toward his years in Woodstock, NY. Albums that came out during that time, which we have rights to use in the production of the film, are The Butterfield Blues Band, the seminal East-West, The Resurrection of Pigboy Crabshaw, In My Own Dream, Paul Butterfield Blues Band Live, and onward to his Woodstock, NY based band Better Days.

We're looking to raise a modest amount in order to travel to and film in Chicago and the old haunts that Paul frequented, spend time with the musicians (some of them world famous and in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame), and meet Paul's childhood friends and family. We've also planned to film a key interview in Ohio, another in New York, and film some key scenes for the film at this summer's Philadelphia Folk Festival, where Gabriel's band - The Butterfielf Blues Band Revisited with Jimmy Vivino - will be playing a set on the 50th anniversary of Gabriel's father having appeared there.


Our success depends on backer volume. Please share this with friends, family and mere strangers! If you can't contribute anything financially, you can help us by sharing this link and spreading the word as far and wide as possible.



During Phase One we intend to film the scenes that will set the stage for this documentary at the Woodstock, NY home of Gabriel Butterfield and his wife Elizabeth as Gabriel prepares to travel with his band - The Butterfield Blues Band Revisited - to perform Paul Butterfield classics at the Philadelphia Folk Festival in August. This will be the 30th anniversary of Butterfield himself appearing at this world class festival.

The thematic line of the film begins with Gabriel intending to re-discover the essence of his dad, whom he lost at a relatively young age. With the help of this Indiegogo campaign we'll bring this important historic story to viewers young and old around the world.

All you have to do is contribute $2 (we hope you can give more) and you'll receive a free download of one of the tunes from a Butterfield Blues Band Revisited concert. These guys mean business! The band is loaded with talent: Jimmy Vivino (guitar), Steve Guyger (harp), Jimmy Eppard (guitar), Pete Levin (keyboards), Jim Curtin (bass) and none other than Paul Butterfield's son Gabriel rocking the drums.

What We Need & What You Get

For Phase One of this project we are looking to raise at least $25,000, but hopefully more. We have already invested more than $10,000 of our own money, as well as countless hours driving to interview and concert locations, filming and editing. Ultimately, the completion of the documentary will require five or ten times this amount. But, suffice it to say, WE WANT TO KEEP MOVING FORWARD. Without funding we can't move forward....

We intend to edit a film representing the early years of Butterfield's life and career, and will enter it in film festivals around the world. Our hopes are that when a wider audience sees this, we'll receive the finishing funds necessary to complete the filming, editing and rights acquisitions of archival films and clips of Paul Butterfield.

My longer-term vision includes filming re-creations of early elements of Butterfield's life...with actors and cinematography meant to convey the actual feel of the early days of Butterfield's life. In this phase, however, our primary focus is on the documentary segments. If time and funds will allow, we'll film some of the re-creation scenes.

However, in the can already are interviews with Al Kooper, Nick Gravenites, Sam Lay, Todd Rundgren, Corky Seigel, Barry Goldberg, Kim Wilson, Jimmy Vivino, Steve Guyger, Happy Traum and more.

Our intentions are to enter Phase One of In My Own Dream into film festivals worldwide, which will help us get one step closer to the completion of the film. Ultimately, our goal is to have the film fully produced and released worldwide in the next two years.

By contributing to our project, you can be a part of the a part of Paul Butterfield. If you haven't touched greatness, this is your chance. If you have touched greatness, you know that this is a story worth telling.

In return for your gift we're offering music downloads, music cd's, concert passes, a credit in the film, and even associate or executive producer status, depending on the size of the gift. The low down is that WE WANT YOU TO BE INVOLVED. The more the merrier, and you can be a part of it.

Lastly, if you hold the rights to any archival films, photographs or recordings of Paul Butterfield, by all means get in touch with us.



The story of Paul Butterfield needs to be told. It is unfortunate that such a musical genius and catalyst for change would be passed over for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame not once, but twice. Gabriel and I feel that the world needs to be educated about the life of Paul Butterfield, and how he played such an important role in the evolution of the blues and Rock & Roll.

BB King said it best when he said "I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for Paul Butterfield". Right on!!


Some people just can’t contribute, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help:

  • Please get the word out and make some noise about our campaign.
  • Please use the Indiegogo share tools on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media site. The more people who see this, the more likely it is that we will be fully funded.

Feel free to contact me personally, and check out my Facebook page for updates and information on this film and concert appearances by The Butterfield Blues Band Revisited.

Thank you for your time and interest,

Thom Pollard

Find This Campaign On
raised by 59 people in 1 month
21% funded
No time left
$25,000 USD goal
Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
Campaign Closed
This campaign ended on August 5, 2013
Select a Perk
  • $2USD
    Open the door...

    Backers of $2 or more will receive a a free song download from a Butterfield Blues Band Revisited performance, plus a ray of White Light and the good feeling that they've become a part of an important historical blues film.

    3 claimed
    Estimated delivery: August 2013
  • $10USD
    Come on in!

    Backers of $10 or more will receive three free song downloads from a Butterfield Blues Band Revisited performance, plus a ray of White Light and the good feeling that they've become a part of an important historical blues film.

    6 claimed
    Estimated delivery: August 2013
  • $25USD
    Now we're talking...

    Contributors of $25 or more to our project will receive all of the above Rewards, plus a signed postcard from Gabriel Butterfield.

    5 claimed
    Estimated delivery: September 2013
  • $50USD
    Your name in lights!

    Contributors of $50 to our project will receive all of the above Rewards, PLUS they will be given credit at the end of the film. They will also receive a CD of the Butterfield Blues Band Revisited in concert.

    17 claimed
    Estimated delivery: October 2013
  • $150USD
    See the music!

    Contributors of $150 will receive all of the above Rewards...PLUS, these contributors will be welcomed for free into a future show of the Gabriel Butterfield Band, featuring Gabriel Butterfield and the music of Paul Butterfield. Contributors will have the opportunity to mingle with and meet the band.

    9 out of 10 claimed
    Estimated delivery: December 2014
  • $1,000USD
    You're a producer now!

    Contributors of $1,000 or more will receive all of the above Rewards...PLUS, they will be given Associate Producer status in this and the final version of the film.

    2 claimed
    Estimated delivery: December 2014
  • $5,000USD
    Gold Status

    Contributors of $5,000 or more will receive all of the above Rewards....However, contributors at this level will be given Executive Producer credits in this version of the film, plus comparable status in the completed documentary, and be rewarded with a VIP laminate and tickets for you and a guest to attend a screening of the movie when it is released. (Travel not included).

    0 claimed
    Estimated delivery: December 2014
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